I thought I’d talk a bit about submissions since Oni Press has decided to open their doors again.
There are several things about submissions that you should know, and if you don’t, then I’m happy to teach you. Call these general guidelines.
- Know where you’re pitching to. Basically, know that if you’re doing superheroes and the company you’re pitching to doesn’t, then you’re more than likely wasting your time pitching there. It’s best if you pick up some of the books the company publishes, so you get a sense of what they’re looking for.
- Try to know the editor you’re pitching to. This isn’t always possible, but give it a shot, anyway. You may follow them on Twitter or befriend them on Facebook, if they have accounts anywhere. They don’t always. Try to see if they’ve done any interviews and read those. Try to get a sense of who they are and what they’re looking for beyond the generic.
- Follow all submission guidelines to the letter. The guidelines were put in place for you to follow. The company is telling you exactly how they want the materials. Sometimes they want indemnity paperwork signed before they even look at your crap, sometimes they want you to walk backwards on your hips through Asian monkey poo while saying the Hail Mary in Spanish. Follow the submission guidelines.
- Be patient. You’re not going to get a response right away. Do something else. You’re a creator—go create! (This also means don’t pester them about it if you haven’t gotten a response in a couple of weeks. Give it at least a month before contacting them about it, and then only do it once. If you haven’t heard back in a reasonable timeframe from then, you can take it as a rejection and move on.)
- Be an adult. Don’t go whining online about this, that, or the other thing. Watch what you say, because it isn’t unheard of for editors to check you out before they decide to work with you. You don’t want to be seen as more trouble than you’re worth.
- Be polite. If you get rejected, thank them for their time. No one likes sour grapes. Remember, you went to them to pitch, not the other way around. They don’t owe you anything.
- Don’t submit crap. By this, I mean make sure you’ve done your due diligence: your submission has been at least spell-and grammar-checked; you’ve let at least one other person read it to catch the bugs you missed (and make sure that person is a reader, not some poor family member who barely picks up anything to read, anyway); you’ve made the submission look as professional as possible. Your submission is your job interview.
That’s really about it. This is what it boils down to. Anything else is splitting hairs.
Don’t take this guide to mean that if you follow all the rules then you’ll get in. If you follow the rules, then you’ll get looked at, and you may get a response. All of the advice anyone will ever give you is doing exactly this: giving you a chance to get a response. You’re hoping for a positive outcome, but your work will speak for itself.